The Express Tribune Editorial 9 December 2019

Whisked away from WhatsApp

One can only wonder what sort of sordid fantasies Modi and his ilk may be dreaming up. As reports emerge of Kashmiri WhatsApp accounts disappearing, one can almost hear India’s Hindu nationalists think to themselves: “Why don’t Kashmiris disappear off the face of the Earth already?”
After all, that is what has characterised Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party’s approach towards the people of the occupied territory. In statement and in action, they have time and again betrayed that Kashmiris in their consciousness are little more than a nuisance. A sore thorn in the path to realising their anachronistic dream of an India only for Hindus.
From the repeal of the constitutional provisions that guaranteed the last vestiges of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy to placing them under a total information blockade with no end in sight, the Modi regime has so far showed its only policy for the people of the valley is to demand they put up and shut up. As its various representatives attempt to justify the moves as being in ‘Kashmiris’ own interest’ at the world stage, one is compelled to speculate if they truly believe it or are they in fact simply too cynical to care.
For those with any empathy, in and outside of India, this disappearance of Kashmiris off of WhatsApp comes as both a grim reminder and a warning. As they vanish from our friends lists, it is a reminder that these ever-suffering people still exist, incarcerated in silence. It is also a warning that continued silence on their plight, particularly by the reasonable segments of Indian citizenry, will bring BJP’s Hindu nationalist fantasies even closer to fruition.
If no one calls Modi and others like him out, WhatsApp and other social media networks may not be the only thing the people of Kashmir could end up disappearing from.


Pyongyang’s latest prankm


North Korea claims to have carried a very important test at a satellite-launching site. Security experts believe it could be a ground-based test of an engine to power a satellite launcher or an intercontinental ballistic missile. All of this comes at a time when Kim Jong Un appears to have shut the door on the US for further negotiations. And while North Korea was planning the test, US President Donald Trump was still hoping to reach an agreement on the denuclearization. But with the latest test, it seems even as the Trump White House is actively pursuing diplomacy with North Korea, a centre-piece of his foreign policy agenda, it has failed to extract any concessions on the denuclearisation of the peninsula.
In return for Trump’s soft stance on the regime’s pranks, the mercurial leader of North Korea seems to be showing no signs of giving any concessions at any point in the near future. He is openly defying international norms as details reveal the latest test took place at the Sohae satellite launch site, which the US once claimed Pyongyang had promised to close. And against all the odds and a wide spectrum of UN sanctions, the North Korea has also re-started the testing of short-range ballistic missiles. If that was not enough to test the waning power of the west, the regime openly renewed its verbal assault against the US president, nearly a year after he said Washington reserved the right to use military force against the country.
None of this comes as a surprise. The timid response from the US and Trump’s love for dictators will only encourage leaders like Kim Jong Un to continue with their policy of intimidation. And from the looks of it, he might have succeeded already. Going by the current trends, it is likely that North Korea, a prime and perhaps the only example of a hermit kingdom is using the United States’ receding influence on global issues as an excuse to advance its authority over the issue of denuclearisation, perhaps even to expand its nuclear program.


Capital problem


The precious resource – water – is depleting everywhere. Islamabad is hardly an exception. Development projects intended to harvest rainwater, replenish the aquifers and tackle water shortages have long failed to come to fruition. This has left residents to their own devices in order to come to grips with the water emergency. At the core of this crisis is the familiar culprit: funding crunch.
But a report in an English-language newspaper insinuates that part of the problem is man-made. The ‘artificial’ water crisis is the ‘result of corruption, mismanagement and a struggle for power between relevant government departments,’ claims the report. It quotes a senior journalist as asserting that water scarcity in Islamabad is a myth created by a corrupt management. He alleges the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the police are behind creating an artificial water crisis. Behind this crisis is not some outside source, the report alleges, but a group of officers in the water management wing. Instead of facilitating residents, these water management officials adopt delaying tactics in supplying water so that the residents are ‘forced’ to order private water tankers.
The price of a private water tanker can vary from 2,000 rupees to 2,500 rupees in the summer and 1,000 rupees to 1,500 rupees in the winter. Many of these government officials have their own private water supply businesses, the journalist claims.
If the allegations contained in the report are true, this warrants a thorough investigation. If the interest of government officials is to line their own pockets, and not to serve the people they are supposed to serve, things are bound to get messed up. If private water supply businesses are owned by government servants, they cannot be expected to let water run in the people’s taps through official pipelines. The matter needs to be probed and the people given a much-needed respite

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